The period from 2008 to 2012 has been a nightmare, right? How could it not be?
The market went from 20500 to around 17000 levels. That’s a loss of 18% in nominal terms, and if one considers an inflation of around 8%, then the loss is a mind numbing 42%. So if one had complete foresight and could see the future, then 100000 invested in a bank deposit would be worth 144000 versus around 82000 in the stock market.
So where is the debate in this?
The time of the stock picker
I know of several fellow investors who have actually done quite well during this period. They may have lost money on a few ideas here and there and suffered through temporary drops during the market swoons in 2008-2009. However over the course of these 4+ years, most of these investors have soundly beaten the market and delivered double digit annual returns
So how have these guys achieved this feat ? Do they have a special diet or drink something special :) ? I don’t think so as far as I know
What has enabled these returns
I would say that there two reasons for the above result. All these investors who have done well, have a long term view of investing and don’t invest with one week or one month in mind. In most cases, they invest after a thorough analysis of the underlying business and only when the market undervalues the business.
A disregard for short term performance, usually results in a long term outperformance.
The second reason I would say is that all these investors are focused and work hard at finding good ideas and then purchasing the stocks, inspite of all the negative news around them.
It helps to be emotionally stable as far as the stock market is concerned. One need not be like Mr Spock from star-trek, but as long as you can avoid extreme greed or fear, you will do fine.
Hard work and focus
This is one of the most under-rated factors in being a successful investor. I am pretty sure most of us were told as young kids, that the way one can be successful in life is by working hard and being diligent about it.
This simple lesson which we apply to almost every other walk of life, is conveniently forgotten by a lot of people, once they enter the stock market. It almost as if, investors collectively expect a Santa Claus to give us returns just for putting up some money in the stock market.
I cannot think of any successful investor who has succeeded without a lot of effort and focus.
Enjoying the process
At the same time effort and focus is not enough to succeed in the long run, if you do not enjoy the process of investing. There are long periods of time when you will not make a meaningful return and all the effort would be seem to be in vain.
I personally went through this phase quite early in my life as an investor. The period 2000-2003 was one mind numbing and grinding bear market when the index went from 6000 levels to 3000 levels over a period of three years. It was no different from what we are experiencing now. Companies like L&T, concor, BHEL sold at 5 times earnings.
The only reason I was able to keep learning and keep going was due my passion for investing. A single digit return on a few lac of rupees is not even minimum wage …why else would any sane person keep working hard for less than minimum wage :)
Everyone can do it
The secret to being a successful investor is that there is no secret at all. Inspite of the nonsense propagated by media, that the common man should leave investing to professionals, I think anyone can become a good investor.
The most important factor to be a good investor is to really enjoy the process of investing. If one loves the process, he or she will find the means to continuously learn and improve as an investor. The returns usually come in time, if one is patient.
The return of the stock pickers
The period 2003-2008 was a big tidal wave. All one had to do was to point his or her boat in the right direction (real estate or infrastructure ?) and the wave carried you through.
The investors who have done well in the past few years are most likely the ones who enjoy the process (and ofcourse want to make money too) and are continuously learning and getting better at it. The last 4+ years have been a time of stock picking and hard work. If you looked for good ideas and operated with an independent mind, the results have been quite good.
Let me make prediction – I am close to 100% sure on this. Once the next bull run starts (it looks unlikely , but will happen in time), you will find a lot of new investors who will boast of their investing prowess and will think that making money in the stock market is easy and effortless.